• Neighbors (1952) - Norman McLaren

    Norman McLaren’s NEIGHBORS is probably the most well-known National Film Board production of all time … McLaren got the idea to make the film as a parable on war after a trip to China with UNESCO … The Korean War had cast the Chinese as the enemy, which upset McLaren and led him to make the film … His original intent was to make an experimental film simply to try out single frame animation with live actors …. The synthetic soundtrack was created by McLaren, by painting the sound directly onto the film …

    In Canada, the film was shown in theatres to a muted response … The response was very different around the world … The sequence in which the women and babies are being attacked was removed by an American educational distributor   … hqdefaultThis became the official print, distributed by the NFB … In the late 1960s … McLaren received many complaints from people asking him to bring back the original version. Because of this and the growing conflict in Vietnam, in 1967 McLaren decided to restore the film to its original length. He felt the longer version, with its images of innocent people being attacked, was a strong allegory for war … The film won many awards over the years, but strangely they were in the documentary category, even though it had no documentary elements in it. (National Film Board of Canada)

     

    … Stylistically groundbreaking in its day, Neighbours employs an unusual technique that became widespread in successive decades. McLaren animates two live actors (Jean-Paul Ladouceur and Grant Munro) via stop motion, as one would animate illustrated characters. Norman-McLaren-1952-Neighbours00848220-59-09Ladouceur and Munro play the neighbors of the title, two newspaper-immersed suburbanites seated in opposing lawn chairs, who quarrel over the ownership of a flower. McLaren’s unprecedented stylistic approach, the absurd newspaper headlines (one of which reads, “Peace certain if no war,” and the other, “War certain if no peace,”) and the papier-mache cutout houses behind the actors lend the work a hefty dose of surrealism. (Nathan Southern, Rovi, New York Times)

    -kw

     

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